Montana became the latest state to ban sex-change procedures on minors after Republican Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill into law on Friday, protecting children from the life-altering treatments.
Gianforte signed Senate Bill 99, known as the “Youth Health Protection Act,” after previously sending it back to the legislature for amendments. The bill bans surgeries, like elective double mastectomies on girls who identify as boys and prohibits puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children.
“He [Gianforte] is committed to protecting Montana’s children from invasive medical treatments that can permanently alter their healthy, developing bodies,” Kaitlin Price, a spokeswoman for Gianforte, said in an email to The New York Times.
In a letter to Montana Republican Senate and House leaders, Gianforte explained why he supported the bill. He said that the bill “focuses on so-called gender-affirming medical care for children. ‘Gender affirming care’ for children is Orwellian Newspeak, a seemingly innocuous, even solicitous phrase that masks its true nature of permanent, invasive, life-altering medical and surgical procedures, performed on children whose young minds and bodies are still developing.”
During the previous debate on the bill, Sen. John Fuller, who sponsored the bill, said that “no serious state would promote the destruction of its own children. We must protect Montanans.”
The bill, which was supported by Republicans, was widely opposed by Democrats. “I’m very disappointed it’s becoming law,” said House Democrat leader Kim Abbott. “It is very damaging policy. It impacts families and communities who are trying to obtain medically necessary care.”
Left-wing groups, like the ACLU of Montana, are already promising legal action against the bill.
State Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D-Missoula), a man who identifies as a woman, was barred from attending or speaking at floor sessions, but will be allowed to vote remotely for the remainder of the session, which is set to end next week.
Following the vote, which came in along party lines, Zephyr blasted the “undemocratic decision” by the Republican majority.
Montana joins a number of other Republican-led states, including Iowa, Tennessee, and Mississippi in banning transgender procedures for children.